Learn how to grow tomatillos and add them to your list of what to grow in your garden this year. Tomatillos are simple to grow with a tart distinctive flavor that is delicious in salsa and sauces. Tomatillos thrive in warm weather and are often heavy producers.
Here are 7 tips for growing tomatillos:
1. Plant tomatillos at the best time
Tomatillos prefer warm soil (70-80℉) and are frost and cold-sensitive. Use a soil thermometer to check soil temperature before planting. Plant tomatillos from seed or transplant.
If starting from seed indoors, start seeds 4 – 8 weeks before the last frost. Not sure when your last frost date is? Enter your zip code into this Frost Date Calculator.
Seeds are available from Seedsnow.com.
In the low desert of Arizona:
- Start seeds indoors: December – January and May – July
- Plant transplants outside: February 15 – March and July 15 – September
2. How to plant tomatillos? Plant tomatillos deeply
Tomatillo means “little tomato” in Spanish, and just like tomatoes, tomatillos can be planted deeply – up to the top leaves of the plant. Roots will form along the stem of the buried tomatillo and feed the growing plant.
3. Give tomatillos plenty of room
Tomatillo plants are large and sprawling. Space tomatillos 2 ½ feet apart. Tomatillos also do well when planted in containers (at least 5-gallon size). Tomatillos can be left to sprawl on the ground but trellising makes harvesting easier.
4. Plant an amigo for your tomatillo
A key tip for learning how to grow tomatillos is to make sure to plant at least 2 plants. Tomatillos are not self-fruitful, and it is important to plant at least 2 tomatillo plants near each other to ensure fruiting.
5. Care for growing tomatillos correctly
- Tomatillos need even moisture to prevent blossom end rot.
- Don’t give tomatillos supplemental nitrogen. Too much nitrogen results in more foliage and less fruit. Tomatillos do well with regular application of an organic fertilizer that is high in phosphorous and potassium.
- Tomatillos grown in the low desert of Arizona benefit from afternoon shade. This post shares ways to add shade to your garden.
6. Harvest tomatillos at the right time
Fruit typically begins to ripen 60 – 80 days after transplant and continues to produce through frost. Picking tomatillos as they ripen encourages the plant to keep producing.
Very dry husk
Husk just beginning to dry out
Fruit is small and hard
Fruit fills husk
Slight softening of fruit
Best flavor, smaller seeds
7. Use tomatillos in a variety of ways
Once you know how to grow tomatillos you’ll have plenty to share with family and friends. Store tomatillos in the refrigerator and leave husks on until ready to use. Fresh tomatillos can be chopped and added to guacamole or salsa. Tomatillos are delicious roasted or sautéed and added to sauces and salsa.
Friday 26th of May 2023
I have 1 tomatillo plant volunteer from the compost. It has begun producing fruit to my amazement. I guess only 1 is needed for this type.
Friday 12th of May 2023
Can I plant green beans by my tomatillo plant or would that be too much nitrogen?
Friday 12th of May 2023
That would be fine.
Friday 20th of January 2023
I had a bumper crop 2 years ago. The next year they came back without me planting anything. Will they continue to come back in the same spot? How will I rotate in this case?
Saturday 21st of January 2023
Tomatillos often reseed from dropped fruit. It is better to rotate where they are planted. If you get another volunteer, gently transplant it to another area of your garden if possible.
Wednesday 5th of October 2022
My bush is huge. Should I be pruning for larger fruit. I have some tomatillos but they seem very small. I live in Tucson and plants were put out end of July.
Thursday 6th of October 2022
You can prune for size as needed, you may get less fruit, but larger.
Sunday 28th of August 2022
about 50% of my mature tomatillos had a burrowing larvae inside that developed a winged form and escaped through the same tiny hole. How do I avoid this pest next year and do you know what it is?
Monday 29th of August 2022
I’m sorry. Not sure of the exact species, but here are a couple of things you can do. Put floating row cover over the plants. You can also treat with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) an organic option that is harmful to caterpillars but not to other insects, etc. https://amzn.to/3CGQKuw